Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has warned the leadership of the People Democratic Party (PDP) to address the grievances of some hurt members of the party, particularly the aggrieved five governors, or forget the 2023 presidential election. Ortom said this on Tuesday in Makurdi during the inauguration of the Benue PDP Campaign Council.
But the PDP Presidential Campaign Council responded by telling Ortom not to compare the circumstances that led to the defection of five governors of the party to All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2015 elections to the current crisis in PDP spawned by seemingly irreconcilable differences between party and Rivers State Governor Nyrsom Wike and his loyalists. The problem started since Wike failed to get the vice presidential running mate.
Wike and four of his colleagues, Ortom, Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), have resolved not to work with Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of PDP, unless the alleged marginalisation of the south was redressed.
Ortom said while addressing PDP supporters that those who felt the five aggrieved governors did not matter were doing the party a disservice.
He said, “There is no way PDP will win elections with the kind of massive conflict they had, especially, the five governors we are talking about are those who won elections in their respective states and you think you can ignore them?”
He called on the national leadership of the party to rise to the occasion and resolve the issues at stake, as it was impossible to move forward without addressing the issues the five governors had raised.
Ortom said, “But if a particular candidate said Governor Ortom does not matter, the leader of the party in Benue did not matter, Benue votes do not matter, that is where we will have issues.”
The governor, however, canvassed support for the Benue State PDP gubernatorial candidate and assured supporters that the party would win the governorship election in the state. He hinted that the five PDP governors would be in Benue next Monday.
The director general of the PDP campaign in Benue State, Dr Cletus Tyookia, appreciated the party for finding him and others worthy to pilot the campaign. Tyookia assured that the team would work hard to deliver the party’s candidates.
But addressing a press conference at the PDP presidential campaign organisation’s headquarters in Abuja, on Tuesday, Director, Strategic Communications of the campaign, Bashorun Dele Momodu, said the threat by the five governors not to work for the election of Atiku in the 2023 election would not have the consequences the 2013 situation had on the 2015 election.
Momodu also expressed worry at the implications the redesigning of the Naira would have on Nigerians. He explained that 2022 was not like 2015, because APC had ruined Nigeria, to the extent that the economy had become comatose, with insecurity all over the country, and the Naira exchanging at almost N800 to a United States Dollar.
Momodu said while the prevailing circumstance in 2015 was such that there was nothing PDP would have done to win the election, with Atiku, the 2022 situation was different from the President Goodluck Jonathan era.
He said the exit of the seven governors and Atiku in 2013 played into the hands of the opposition, noting, “What you have today is a candidate who’s the most experienced, most net worth, and governors angry is personal and not about PDP not delivering on its mandate.”
He said the Naira was already taking a hit against foreign currencies, especially, the United States Dollar, because the current administration had shown gross incompetence in the management of the economy.
Momodu stated that despite denials by the federal government, the security situation in the country was terrible.
One of the spokespersons of the campaign, Charles Aniagwu, said at the press conference, “The PDP and its leadership are very much concerned about the level of poverty in Nigeria and the APC administration is doing badly in trying to get our people out of the trenches, that is why we invited you. And we are going to give you the alternative to be able to reverse this trend.
“The latest is the change in the fall of our currency or whatever you may call it. A house is falling, instead of bringing people to take steps to restructure the house and make it stand, you decide to paint the house and think that is the solution to bring back the house to where it is. Our naira today has no value, even in the hands of our people.”
Justifying Atiku’s recent trip to the US, Aniagwu said, “The greatest economy in the world is the United States of America and so if you want to make a difference, you must be able to discuss with the masters, both for the purpose of attracting direct investments and for the purpose of taking steps that will help you strengthen the Naira that has collapsed very badly.”
Chuks Okocha in Abuja and George Okoh in Makurd